The verbs " to grave, to engrave " are of Germanic origin .

The word " graffitto " is of Italian source, but comes from a Greek basis .

H 0454         ת ר ח

H 0454         ש ר ח

Concept of root : to engrave

Hebrew word


English meanings

ת ר ח

ש ר ח



to engrave;

to to engrave, cut in

Related English words

to grave, to engrave

Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


ת ר ח

ש ר ח

gharat; gharash

to engrave ; to engrave, cut in

gh . r . t ;

gh . r . sh



χαρασσω; χαραττω

grapho; kharasso;


to engrave

g r . ph

kh . r . t





g r . ph




to engrave

g r . v





g r . f


to engrave

to engrave

g r . v



Proto-Semitic *GHARAT -- --- *KHARAT Greek < *KRAT- Indo-European

Proto-Semitic *GHARASH --- *KHARAS Greek < *KRAS- Indo-European

Proto-Semitic *GHARATS --- ----------------------- *KRATS- Indo-European

Proto-Semitic (*GHARAB) --- GRAPH-O Greek < *KRAP- Indo-European



The first thing to remember is perhaps that "to write" for which there is Greek "GRAPHO" and Hebrew "KATAB", is a relatively recent human activity, whereas "engraving" and making "incisions" are activities, the result of which are found on rocks, have been practiced for very many millennia. When it came to defining a word for "to write", different choices were made.


The comparison found above shows a rich variation of related roots, with amazing similarity of developments and variations between Semitic and Indo-European.


In the European words, presented in this entry, we often do not find the final T of Hebrew, but a labial instead. The T in Italian "graffiti" which is by the way a plural form, is part of a suffix that makes the past participle. In one of the two Greek verbs, which is the Athenian version, we even find that T, that is quite comparable to the Hebrew one in its function. That is to say that on the basis of a two-consonant-root "GH R" or "KH R", with nearly identical sound, an active verb is formed with the addition of a third consonant T. This happens in for example different dialects.


In Hebrew the problem of dialects is less clear than in Greek.



  • Modern Greek has "grapho" simply for "to write", and in that sense it has through many composed words conquered the world. In Classic both Greek words are very near each other.


  • Proto-Semitic. The same root "ח ר ש , GH R SH" also has what probably is a derived meaning : " to plow". This is found in Hebrew, Aramaic, and has cognates in Ethiopian "gharasa = he plowed" and Akkadian "ereshu = to plow". Phoenician speaks about "to work metal ( or wood) " and Ugaritic "GH R S" indicates skillfulness and artisanship. Obviously a rich range of meanings has developed with this root. As to the sister "ח ר ת , GH R T", one finds in Arabic a cognate "gharatha = to plow". Probably both versions were present in Proto-Semitic, though it hard to say for which precise meanings they were used at that time : "*ח ר ש , GH R SH" and "*ח ר ת , GH R T". There is a third, related Hebrew root : "ח ר ץ , GH R TS" meaning " to cut , cut in", and this has sisters in Phoenician "ח ר ץ " and Aramaic " ח ר ץ , gharats that say " to engrave". Akkadian "gharatsu = "to dig". Proto-Semitic probably also used already this third root : "* ח ר ץ , GH R TS".


  • Proto-Germanic. As is known, the English verb "to grave (Old English "grafan")" carries the meanings of "to carve, sculpt, engrave" and figuratively "to deeply impress". Via a metathesis it is related to the verb "to carve (Old English "ceorfan)". Old English "grafan" also carried the rather different, be it related meaning of "to dig, dig up", that is reflected in the noun "grave". And Old English "ceorfan" also had the meaning of "to cut, cut down, slay". The picture is complicated, but probably both versions had their origin in Proto-Germanic.


    "To carve" finds its sister words in German and Middle High German "kerben", with Middle Low German "kerven", but Middle Dutch "kerven, caerven, keevren, carven". The point of departure here may have been a form "*K A RB-".


    For "to engrave, graven " Proto-Germanic probably had "*GR A B-".


    In German and Dutch there is a group of words found in Entry E 0191 grate (Hebrew 0374), with a Proto-Germanic "*KR Ă T-" and a similar Indo-European . Then Dutch "krassen" and German "kratzen also legitimize "*KR Ă S-" and "*KR Ă TS-".


  • Indo-European. The information is about limited to Greek and Germanic. The Latin or Neo Latin words mentioned in the table have been derived from those two. Indo-European may have had a form similar to Greek , like "*GR Ā P-" . The final "B" in Germanic may be a differentiation from the concepts expressed with "GR vowel P", as in a.o. English "grip". Another groups of words, seen in Entry E 0191 grate (Hebrew 0374) developed out of an Indo-European "*KR Ă T-" or "*K Ā R Ă T-" . Germanic and Greek also have the variations with " S " , advocating "*KR Ā S-". Then there is in Entry E 0387 graffitti (Hebrew 0376). An Indo-European "*KR Ā P-" can be hypothesized.





Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 27/10/2012 at 17.30.22